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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Archiv Produktion

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released December 13, 2019 | Passacaille

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Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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When Ray Chen released his superlative 2018 debut album for Decca, “The Golden Age”, with its headline act of Bruch's Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Robert Trevino recorded in London's Henry Wood Hall, no one could have dreamed that his follow-up would be a half-length album of solo Bach, self-recorded in a brand new self-erected studio in his own home. However such has been the story of 2020, and beyond Chen deserving a clap on the back for even going to these lengths to produce a professional-grade recording during a pandemic lockdown, to my ears “Solace” is actually as strong as “The Golden Age” in its own special way. As for the details of Chen's programme, it consists of six movements from Bach's collection of sonatas and partitas for solo violin, selected “to represent the personal and powerful feelings he has experienced during this year”. As for how successful the end result is, to serve up this particular repertoire as a pick and mix of isolated movements inevitably loses some of its inherent narrative, and many would argue its profundity. However if you can get on board with appreciating each of these movements as fragmentary snapshots, then there's much to both admire and enjoy here. Indeed, when artists can be so angst-ridden over when is “the right time” in their career to take the solo Bach sonatas and partitas into the recording studio, Chen's lockdown interpretations strike for their sheer unselfconsciousness. You don't remotely sense that he's feeling the pressure of generations of great violinists' recordings. They're simply a snapshot of where he is right now, via music he wanted to play for its own sake; and the result is that it all exudes integrity. Not least because in every way imaginable it's very audibly Chen: silvery, lithe and alive to melodic beauty; abounding in energy while equally abounding in refinement; quick to spot potential for humour. The opening Preludio from Partita No. 3 in E major delights from the off, with the swiftness of Chen's smooth flow beautifully melding Bach's implied harmonies together in the air. The ensuing Fugue from Sonata No. 1 in G minor doesn't hang around either, but more than its forwards momentum it's Chen's sense of developing musical argument and overall architecture that holds the ear. No less grabbing is the pressing tension of the Allegro from Sonata No. 2 in A minor, with its nervously clipped rising figurations. But Chen saves the best for last. Off the back of those A minor gasps comes first the Largo from the Sonata No. 3 in C major, exuding tenderness and intimacy, and with its upper-register lines sounding breathtakingly sweet and fragile. Then finally we circle back to the Partita No. 3 in E major for its Gavotte en Rondeau – a deliciously dancing reading over which Chen plays with us, pulling us into a guessing game over how hard he'll emphasize each first beat, how he'll vary the dynamics and articulation, and whether and when he'll slip the next pause or rubato into the mix. Perhaps one day Chen will record the complete Bachs, and if he does then it'll be fascinating to listen to these alongside them. For the moment though, enjoy them for what they offer in the here and now. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 26, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released October 16, 2015 | Signum Records

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Concertos - Released October 1, 2009 | SDG

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Listeners who like their period performances of the music of J.S. Bach to be played as fast as possible will rejoice at John Eliot Gardiner's quicksilver set of the Brandenburg Concertos with the English Baroque Soloists, because his need for speed is fully indulged here. Gardiner's electrifying tempos almost push his musicians to their capacity for quickness and accuracy, and perhaps a bit too much for comfort. For listeners, it may take sitting through the entirety of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, and perhaps even part of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, to acclimatize to the briskness and to get used to the staccato accentuation. But if this kind of high-energy playing appeals -- and there are undoubtedly fans of this super-brisk style of performing Baroque music -- then the set will be appreciated for its other authentic features. Gardiner keeps his forces lean and the instrumentation appropriate to its era, and ornamentation and other liberties of interpretation are in keeping with the best scholarship. This is definitely a historically informed set of the Brandenburgs, which counterbalances any number of other ahistorical performances of the past, which presented these concertos with sluggish tempos, modern instruments, and large string and wind sections that were far from nimble. Gardiner's approach is challenging and bracing, so this set should certainly be heard by anyone who studies these popular works. Whether one can embrace them fully is another matter, but they are definitely ear-opening experiences. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 14, 2015 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Many concepts have been applied to the playing of Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, on the piano rather than the harpsichord for which it was originally composed. There are readings that attempt to restrict the piano's dynamic ambit to keep it close to that of a harpsichord, those that go full-on Romantic, and monumental takes that recognize the sheer unprecedented scope of the work. Fewer, though, are those that recognize the original story of the work's origin, recounted by Bach's early biographer Forkel: a Russian ambassador in Saxony, named Kaiserling, had trouble sleeping and prevailed upon a young pianist named Goldberg to serenade him to the land of dreams with a harpsichord, asking Bach to compose something for these sessions. The tale has been widely disbelieved, but there is no reason to suppose that quiet, intimate Goldberg Variations are any less valid than an epic one. That's what's here from German pianist Lars Vogt, who manages the neat trick of delivering a truly pianistic interpretation without turning it into a Romantic one. He does so by keeping the volume low throughout and by reining in the temptation to make the big minor-key variations at the middle and end into anguished dissonant cries. Instead they are moderate in tempo and quietly dreamy, to delightful effect, and one might indeed imagine the insomniac Russian count drifting off to them. In general Vogt's treatment is straightforward, with nothing brought so far to the fore that it would interfere with the considerable contrapuntal detail that emerges naturally from the individual variations. With excellent engineering from Ondine, working in the Deutschlandfunk Chamber Music Studio in Cologne, this is a highly recommended tonic to grandiose Goldberg Variations played on whatever instruments. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 13, 2015 | Signum Records

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Classical - Released September 6, 2019 | Arcana

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After releasing all the Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites, Zefiro joins forces with authoritative singer Dominik Woerner to investigate the intriguing relationship between bass voice and reed instruments in Bach’s sacred cantatas. “Johann Sebastian Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel tells us of his father’s talent as a singer: ‘He had a good penetrating voice of wide range and good singing style.’ It is therefore not surprising that the three church cantatas for solo bass are among his most exquisite and personal vocal works. Singing voice and instruments enter into a special relationship in these pieces. The dense yet sensitive polyphony is filled with a warmth and tenderness that seems to bring us closer to Bach, who is otherwise so ‘hermetically closed’. The ‘I’ voice in the poems of cantatas BWV 56 and 82 becomes the composer’s voice. Bach’s solo cantatas are precious gems whose subtle beauties go straight to the listener’s heart.” © Peter Wollny/Arcana
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released September 30, 2016 | BR-Klassik

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Classical - Released May 6, 2016 | Eudora Records

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Classical - Released March 25, 2016 | Musiques à la Chabotterie

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Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | deutsche harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | First Hand Records

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Classical - Released November 17, 2017 | Carus

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Classical - Released October 26, 2018 | deutsche harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released June 7, 2019 | CAvi-music

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Classical - Released January 21, 2015 | HORTUS

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Chamber Music - Released January 19, 2018 | NoMadMusic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica